Pedal The Cause Gives $1,300,000 For Cancer Research To Four Local Research Organizations

Photo credit: Andy Hayt

Grassroots cycling event raises money to fund innovative cancer research in San Diego

San Diego, CA (April 21, 2016)—Pedal the Cause today presented $1,300,000 in grant funding to researchers from Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego Health, Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and Rady Children’s Hospital–San Diego. The check presentation was made by Pedal the Cause Executive Director Jay Indovino during a press conference at Rady Children’s Hospital this morning.

“From the beginning, we’ve wanted PEDAL to be more than just a cycling fundraising event,” states Indovino. “We want it to be a movement that mobilizes the entire San Diego community to join in the fight to end cancer. The money we’ve presented here today is a monumental step towards that goal and is a result of the efforts and contributions of everyone who has rallied to the cause. We’re extremely excited about what the future holds for PEDAL and working hard towards an even larger award next year.”

On behalf of the thousands of riders, volunteers, sponsors and donors that participated in the 2015 ride, PEDAL is honored to present funding for these awards representing the latest in innovative cancer research. The rigorous criteria on which the selected projects are evaluated and awarded emphasize collaborative, translational research that presents a clear route to a clinical trial. Summaries of the 2015 Pedal-powered grants are as follows:



Type of Cancer: Lung


Lyudmila Bazhenova, MD (Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego Health)

Inder Verma, PhD (Salk Institute Cancer Center)

Research Focus: Targeting KRAS Mutant lung cancer with biphosphonated/statins and rapamycin analogs

Lung cancer is the most common human malignancy and leads to about one-third of all cancer-related deaths. There are three major genetic mutations found in lung cancers: EGFR, EML4-ALK and KRAS. The latter, KRAS, is more common in Caucasians, males and smokers, and does not currently have good therapeutic options. Previous studies have shown that select drugs prescribed for bone resorption, when used in combination with rapamycin (an immunosuppressant commonly used to prevent the body from rejecting organ and bone marrow transplants), could successfully prevent tumor growth and prolong survival. PEDAL15 grant funding will allow scientists to test the drug combination in metastatic lung tumors with KRAS mutations, as well as decipher what makes a tumor more sensitive to this drug combination. Additionally, it has been found that certain drugs designed to lower blood cholesterol (statins) could also inhibit protein modification. This grant will make it possible for scientists to test combinations of statins with rapamycin. Scientists hope to develop a viable combination therapy to combat lung cancers with KRAS mutations and demonstrate the power of immediate translation of results into the clinic.


Type of Cancer: Colorectal


Silvio Gutkind, PhD (Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego Health)

Susan Taylor, PhD (Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego Health)

Tony Hunter, PhD (Salk Institute Cancer Center)

Research Focus: The GNAS-PKA Onco-Signaling Network in Colorectal Malignancies

Every year, more than 135,000 Americans – and 1.35 million people worldwide – are diagnosed with colorectal cancer. With 50,000 deaths each year, colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. New approaches are clearly needed to explain the underlying biology of colorectal cancer, which will help the development of new and more effective options to prevent and treat this highly prevalent human malignancy. Aspirin and multiple over the counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are effective in preventing colorectal cancer, supporting that chronic inflammation contributes to the development of this cancer. A molecule known as Protein Kinase A (PKA) is often stimulated by inflammatory mediators in the normal intestine and colorectal tumors. Through PEDAL15 funding, scientists will be able to study what causes the unrestrained activation of PKA in colorectal cancer and how PKA then stimulates cancer growth. It is believed that these studies will increase our understanding of colorectal cancer initiation and progression, will help identify patients at risk of developing this malignancy, and will reveal new therapies to prevent and treat this disease.


Type of Cancer: Ovarian


Olivier Harismendy, PhD (Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego Health)

Stephen Howell, MD (Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego Health)

Joseph Ecker, PhD (Salk Institute Cancer Center):

Research Focus: Epigenetic Basis of Platinum Drug-resistance in Ovarian Cancer

The majority of patients treated for ovarian cancer receive platinum-based chemotherapy, but 85 percent of patients who initially responded will eventually relapse with a recurrent tumor that is resistant to treatment. Platinum drug resistance is a serious clinical problem affecting thousands of patients every year. With the modern tools of precision medicine and genomics, scientists now have a chance to better understand how tumor cells adapt to and escape the treatment. PEDAL15 funding will allow scientists to apply an experimental system developed to obtain platinum sensitive and resistant cells that have an identical DNA sequence. Scientists will evaluate why tumors can rapidly adapt to treatment and become resistant. This research is likely to predict why certain ovarian tumors are more likely to become resistant and how soon. It may also lead to the identification of therapies to prevent or delay the onset of platinum resistance.


Type of Cancer: Lung


Hatim Husain, MD (Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego Health)

Garth Powis, DPhil (Sanford Burnham Prebys Cancer Center)

Research Focus: KRAS Addiction and Protein Biomarkers of Response to Anti-KRAS Therapy in NSCLC Patient-derived Xenografts

In approximately 25 percent of lung cancer cases, the gene KRAS may be mutated. Therapies for patients who have a KRAS mutation are not currently approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration. This challenge remains a largely unmet need among lung cancer patients. Every year an estimated 39,000 people will die of this molecular form of the disease. In this PEDAL-funded project, scientists will study proteins that are expressed in these tumors and seek to identify additional markers that may be used to determine who will respond to novel KRAS-directed therapies. Additionally, the funding will also facilitate the study of new drug therapies developed to target the KRAS protein complex and test its efficacy in KRAS-mutated and pathway dependent cancer cells. This groundbreaking research could serve the basis of a future clinical trial to evaluate a new anti-KRAS drug for patients with KRAS mutations and pathway dependency.


Type of Cancer: All Cancers


Ruth Patterson, PhD (Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego Health)

Dorothy Sears, PhD (Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego Health)

Satchidananda Panda, PhD (Salk Institute Cancer Center)

Research Focus: Mechanisms Linking Prolonged Nightly Fasting with Cancer Risk

Obesity is an epidemic. Identification and validation of feasible, effective approaches to reduce obesity-related cancer risk is needed. Research studies indicate that time-restricted feeding can protect against obesity, high insulin levels, fatty liver, and inflammation – all of which can increase cancer risk. Through this PEDAL15-funded study, researchers will test whether, in comparison to a short fasting interval, a 13-hour or greater nightly fasting interval is associated with lower blood glucose levels, lower inflammation, lower levels of obesity, and improved sleep. Scientists will also investigate the association of prolonged nightly fasting with metabolites in the blood, such as sugars and fats, and the association of nightly fasting with the gut microbiome (a collection of all microorganisms and viruses that live in the intestines). If habitual prolonged nightly fasting improves metabolic health and reduces obesity-related cancer risks, this would be a crucial discovery in the prevention of cancer in adults.


Type of Cancer: All Cancers


Tannishtha Reya, PhD (Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego Health)

Michael Jackson, PhD (Sanford Burnham Prebys Cancer Center)

Research Focus: Targeting Stem Cell Signals in Cancer Development & Progression

To identify new therapeutic targets for cancer, researchers have focused on stem cell programs that are reactivated in cancer. It has been demonstrated that the stem cell signal Musashi (Msi) is highly upregulated during leukemia development and that its blockage can prevent tumor growth and progression. Data suggests that targeting Msi may provide a new strategy for therapy. To move this work forward to the clinic, PEDAL15 grant funding will be used to develop inhibitors of Msi and test their effectiveness against cancer growth. Outcomes from this study have the potential to identify a new class of therapeutics for cancers that are largely unresponsive to current therapies.


Type of Cancer: All Cancers


Randy Taplitz, PhD (Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego Health)

Shane Crotty, PhD La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology

Research Focus: Detecting Correlates of Vaccine Responses in Allogeneic Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant Recipients

Vaccines decrease the risk of infection by working with the body’s natural defenses to develop immunity or protection against disease. Patients with cancer and other diseases affecting the immune system may lose immunity to those diseases against which they have previously been vaccinated and also may have reduced ability to develop immunity to a new vaccination. Hematopoietic cell transplant (HCT) is a procedure that replaces defective or damaged cells in patients whose normal blood cells have been affected by cancer. PEDAL15 funds will allow scientists to measure vaccine-specific immunity before and after vaccination with the pneumococcal and Tdap vaccines, which are given at standardized times in the year after HCT. Ultimately, this effort is expected to lead to better vaccination strategies which will in turn lead to decreased infections due to vaccine-preventable diseases in this vulnerable patient population, as well as contribute to our understanding of immune recovery after HCT.



Established in 2013, with tremendous support and participation from the San Diego community, Pedal the Cause doubled its ridership and fundraising numbers in just one year and has experienced fast growth ever since. Plans are well underway to surpass our previous years’ results in 2016. The fourth annual Pedal the Cause event takes place on November 12-13, 2016 at Petco Park and will feature courses for every one of all cycling abilities, as well as new partnerships with key organizations in the community. Participants can choose a one-day ride (12, 25, 40 or 100 miles) or a two-day ride (162 miles with an overnight stay at Petco Park). Virtual rider and volunteer opportunities are also available to those who chose not to ride, but want to make a difference in the fight against cancer. Children are invited to participate in Superhero Kids Challenge fun ride. Registration for PEDAL16 is now open. For more information about courses, training rides/clinics, volunteer opportunities, or to make a donation, please visit


About Pedal the Cause

Pedal the Cause San Diego (“PEDAL”) is a California non-profit public benefit corporation established to fund, plan and manage an annual cycling fundraiser with a mission to end cancer by raising money for innovative life-saving cancer research at Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego Health, Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, Salk Institute for Biological Studies and Rady Children’s Hospital–San Diego. The goal and true hope is that research funded by Pedal the Cause will ultimately lead to a cure for cancer.  For more information, please visit


About Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego Health

Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego Health is home to nearly 350 medical and radiation oncologists, cancer surgeons, and researchers. It is one of only 45 National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers in the country, a rare honor distinguishing exceptionally high achievement in research, clinical care, education and community outreach and partnerships. For more information, visit


About Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute

Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP) is an independent nonprofit medical research organization that conducts world-class, collaborative, biological research and translates its discoveries for the benefit of patients. SBP focuses its research on cancer, immunity, neurodegeneration, metabolic disorders and rare children’s diseases. The Institute invests in talent, technology and partnerships to accelerate the translation of laboratory discoveries that will have the greatest impact on patients. Recognized for its world-class NCI-designated Cancer Center and the Conrad Prebys Center for Chemical Genomics, SBP employs about 1,100 scientists and staff in San Diego (La Jolla), Calif., and Orlando (Lake Nona), Fla. For more information, visit us at or on Facebook at and on Twitter @SBPdiscovery.


About the Salk Institute for Biological Studies

The Salk Institute embodies Jonas Salk’s mission to dare to make dreams into reality. We explore the very foundations of life, seeking new realities in neuroscience, genetics, immunology and more. We are small by choice, intimate by nature, fearless in the face of any challenge. We live to discover. Be it cancer or Alzheimer’s, aging or diabetes, we understand that every cure has a starting point. Salk is where cures begin.


About Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego:

Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego is a 520-bed pediatric care facility providing the largest source of comprehensive pediatric medical services in San Diego, Southern Riverside and Imperial counties. Rady Children’s is the only hospital in the San Diego area dedicated exclusively to pediatric healthcare and is the region’s only designated pediatric trauma center. In June 2015, U.S. News & World Report ranked Rady Children’s among the best children’s hospitals in the nation in all ten pediatric specialties the magazine surveyed. Rady Children’s is a nonprofit organization that relies on donations to support its mission. For more information, visit and find us on Facebook, Twitter and Vimeo.

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